Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is fighting for his political life in his reelection effort. Yet it seems he has chosen a very strange strategy—run against Gov. Dannel Malloy. Segarra has complained about state funding and reimbursement for Hartford’s tax-exempt property. He also gave an ominous warning to Malloy and others against trying to defeat a Latino mayor. The plan does not serve the mayor well and will ultimately fail.
Perhaps Segarra sees the governor’s involvement in the race as the elephant in the political room that needs to be exposed and answered. There’s no doubt Malloy would like to see Segarra’s challenger win the mayor’s office in the capitol city. Democratic Party-endorsed candidate Luke Bronin was a top aide to Malloy before launching his campaign. Their ties run deep and Segarra is doing nothing to blunt their impact.
To Segarra’s detriment, he has chosen to blame the state—and by extension Malloy—for Hartford’s woes. In the first debate between Segarra and Bronin, the mayor repeatedly tweaked Malloy instead of Bronin. Instead of concentrating on something like, say, Bronin’s youth (he’s 36) and lack of experience as a chief executive, Segarra complained about state funding and Malloy chasing a tax deal with United Technology without consulting the city.
Things broke more into the open this week when the mayor told WNPR’s John Dankosky on the popular “Where We Live” radio show that Malloy knew all about the baseball stadium deal in the city before it was announced. Malloy has said he stayed out of the issue.
Malloy has had enough. Through a spokesman, he pushed back against Segarra. “Governor Malloy and the state have sent Hartford more than $1 billion over the past several years,” spokesman Devon Puglia told the Hartford Courant.
“Not to mention the 6 percent increase the state has delivered for the city’s budget since 2011, as well as the assets the state has purchased from Hartford that’s helped the mayor balance his budgets,” Puglia was quoted as saying.
“The mayor seems to be deliberately putting out misinformation about the resources he receives. When there’s a spike in crime, or a budgetary challenge, for some reason he’s looking at the state as the problem. Put simply, it needs to stop – and it needs to stop now. It seems that almost daily we are asked about – blamed for – issues that Hartford faces.” Yikes.
He concluded, “The mayor receives vast resources, he’s responsible for them, and even though he’s happy to take credit for the things that go right, he’s shifting the blame on things that go wrong. In short, the deliberate mistruths about the governor need to end,” Puglia was quoted as saying.
Making the state and Malloy a major issue in the campaign doesn’t seem to have an upside to it for Segarra. He needs to start talking about why he is the better leader and more qualified to take Hartford forward. And even if he is reelected mayor, Malloy is the governor for at least the next three years. He won’t have a lot of love for a Segarra-led Hartford.
Maybe the fact that the city is reeling on so many levels leaves Segarra with no choice but to play the “blame game.”
In a related matter, Bronin is out with his first TV ad in the campaign.